1033) The West and Terrorism: PKK as A Privileged Terrorist Organization

The PKK is a Kurdist and separatist terrorist organization. The US and EU laws say that it is a terrorist organization. According to the British MI5 reports, it is one of the bloodiest terrorist organizations. It means that there is no difference between Al Qaeda and the PKK before the Western legal system.

However the PKK has military bases in Iraq and propaganda offices in the EU capitals. The terrorist organization is probably the only terrorist organization that has satellite TV channel. The PKK’s Roj TV has been broadcasting from Denmark. It uses the Hotbird satellite. France and the UK had banned the previous PKK channels after Turkey’s years-long struggle. The PKK controls the drug business and human trafficking in Europe, and all the money comes from this illegal business goes to the so-called media institutions. The PKK media makes money-laundering, and the organization uses all this sources to finance its activities. . . . .

The PKK has offices in Denmark, Belgium and in many other Western European cities. The US officials last week openly blamed the EU states of allowing the PKK propaganda activities in their countries. Kurt Volker, the deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs in the U.S. State Department, said late Thursday that media channels belonging to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) in Europe should be declared part of terrorist organizations and must be closed down. Delivering a speech at a U.S. House of Representatives meeting discussing emerging threats in Europe, Volker labeled the PKK a threat to Europe's security.

The PKK has always been a privileged terrorist organization in Europe. Greece and the Greek Cyprus openly supported the PKK activities in the past. When the PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was captured in the Greek Embassy in Kenya, a Greek Cypriot passport was found on him. The official documents vividly show that the Greece and Cyprus Greeks financed many PKK activities and they gave great political support to PKK terrorism.

When the Syrians deported the head of the PKK terrorists, Abdullah Ocalan traveled many European states, including Russia, Greece and Italy. Many European politicians, including Germans, Italians, British and French, openly visited him though their own laws named Abdullah Ocalan as terrorist. When Ocalan arrived in Rome on November 12, 1998 traveling on a false passport, he was arrested. However he was never seen as a ‘real terrorist’ by the Italian authorities. For the ordinary Turks, the Italians simply protected him. They even did not fulfill what the Italian laws said.

Ocalan requested that Rome grant him political asylum, and Italy did not know what to do with a terrorist. Now we see that the Turkish people never forget the Italians’ strange attitude towards one of the bloodiest terrorist in the world. Ocalan was not only a leader of the PKK. He had ordered and personally committed many murders and even massacres. His targets were not only the Turks but Kurds and even the not-loyal PKK members. There are hundreds of eye-witnesses for his individual murder crimes.

Italian courts have ruled that, despite an existing international arrest warrant issued, Ocalan cannot be extradited to Turkey because the death penalty could be applied in his case, despite Ankara’s moves to remove capital punishment. This was the source of the great Turkish anger against Italy. Italy could put Ocalan to an Italian court, because he was a terrorist according to the Italian and EU laws as well. Yet the Rome Government could not dare to do as well.

Germany had an existing arrest warrant for Ocalan, and Turkey hinted that it would accept a solution where Germany would try Ocalan. But the German government decided it did not want him both out of fear of terrorism and because of likely clashes between the Turkish and PKK militants in Germany. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder declared, "We decided to protect the peace of Germany." Germans preferred not to combat against terrorism. It meant that they only considered peace in Germany and they did not give importance to peace in Turkey. Thus the German Government, in spite of the existing arrest warrant for Ocalan and existing laws considering PKK as a terrorist organization, did not put Ocalan to a German court. Strangely Italian and German politicians argue that the both countries courts are independent and they have no tool to intervene their legal system. However we saw in the Ocalan case that both countries courts did what their Government wanted.

German and Italian officials adopted the argument that an International Court should try Ocalan, ignoring the absence of an international body with the jurisdiction to try an individual like Ocalan. Italy could try Ocalan under existing anti-terrorism treaties, but Rome shown no interest in doing so.

Ocalan was one of the most significant terrorist leaders in the world, with a legacy of untold carnage to his name. And he has lost his international backing, which is, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the condition that allows terrorism to flourish. Yet as Tzvi Fleischer put it, “the response of both Italy and Germany was to do their best to make the problem go away, fear of revenge being their reason to avoid responsibilities they have under international anti-terrorism agreements”. (1)

Ocalan then visited Greece and no Greek authorities captured or arrested him. The next stop was Russia and the Russians, who always complaining from terrorism, did nothing to arrest him.

Finally Ocalan was captured in Kenya, Africa. He was in a Greek Embassy and his passport from Greek Cyprus. Turkish special team was assisted by the Americans and all of the Turkish media underlined the American assistance in capturing Abdullah Ocalan. The Washington clearly accused the EU states on handling the Ocalan case. The Turkish public has never forgotten the EU’s and the US’ stance towards the PKK and Ocalan.

American Double Standard?
The American assistance in combating PKK made Bill Clinton the most popular American president in Turkey.

The situation has shifted dramatically after the Iraq War. The PKK, which was on the US’ and EU’s terrorist organization list, established many terrorist camps in Northern Iraq. The US authorities first promised to remove all these camps when they invaded Iraq. Iraq was their responsibility and removal of the terrorists, including the PKK, was their one of the foremost tasks. However, the Americans ignored the PKK terrorists for the past years. The PKK established training camps. They established logistic stores. They collected ‘donations’, bought arms. The drug smuggling and human trafficking were continued as financial sources of the PKK. Money went to the European PKK propaganda network and terrorist activities in Turkey. In 3 years the PKK reached 3.000-armed-terrorists under the American and local Kurdish protection.

The local Kurdish political groups, namely Barzani and Talabani groups, saw the PKK as guarantee of their independence. Turkey was seen as the only country could prevent Kurdish independent state in Iraq and as far as Turkey was busy in struggling against the PKK terrorism, Turks were not able to involve the Iraqi policies. Both the neo-cons and the Kurdist groups in Iraq prevent Turkish approach in Iraq. Turkey was kept away from the Iraq policies. While the cost of the Iraqi occupation for the US has rocketed, Turkey has suffered from the PKK terrorism. The PKK used Iraqi territories to attack Turkish territories. The local Kurds and the US have done almost nothing to stop the PKK terrorists.

Nowadays the American diplomats in Ankara hint that the US authorities did not promised to remove the PKK camps, which is not true. Imagine the American diplomats are right: American President Bush, Secretor of State Rice, former secretor of State Powell and many other Americans did not promise to remove the terrorist camps from Iraq. As a matter of fact, this would be the worse than unfulfilled promises.

The PKK camps in Iraq have undermined Turkey-US relations. The USAK made a survey last year, 2005. According to the Survey, 74 % of the Turks saw the existence of the PKK camps in Iraq as the ‘thorniest problem’ in US - Turkey relations. The US and Turkey are NATO allies and have been strategic allies since the end of the Second World War. Turkish people have all the rights to expect from the US to remove the terrorist camps from Iraq. At least the US has to demilitarize the PKK militants as it demilitarized the anti-Iranian groups in Iraq.


To make it clearer let’s make comparison: If Turkey acted against the terrorist as the EU and the US today do, the Al Qaeda would have a satellite TV station broadcasting from Ankara to Western Europe and Northern America. This Al Qaeda channel would encourage violence in the West and always call for terrorist attacks against the Western targets. Turkey, in response to the Western governments would have said that Turkey was a democratic country and the Al Qaeda TV station should be considered under the free speech principle. If Turkey acted against the terrorist as the EU and the US today do, all of the radical Islamist terror organizations would have terrorist camps in Istanbul or in Izmir operating terrorist activities against Greece or France. If Turkey acted against the terrorist as the EU and the US today do, the IRA, ETA and all other terrorist organizations would have offices in Ankara and they would declare war against the US, UK or Spain. If Turkey acted against the terrorist as the EU and the US today do, Ankara Government would have allowed the terrorist organization to collect donations, to make drug smuggling and money laundering in Turkey. If Turkey acted against the terrorist as the US today do, all Iraqi insurgents had camps in Turkey and they would use Turkish territories to attack the American targets…

(1) Tzvi Fleischer, “Apo-calypse Now, What can you do with a problem like Abdullah?”, AIJAC, 4 - 31 December 1998, http://www.aijac.org.au/review/1998/2315/ocalan.html

14 May 2006 JTW

Sedat LACINER, PhD: Director, International Strategic Research Organization (USAK - ISRO) & 2006 Davos Economic Forum Young Global Leader

© 2005 www.turkishweekly.net

Striking a Balance between Terrorism and Investigation: Interview with former chief of police, Guy Johnson

Last Wednesday, the UK foiled a terror plot to blow up approximately ten airline carriers over the Pacific that provide service from London to key cities in the United States. As the president of the United States declared, it would have been damage on an unprecedented scale. In the following days, 24 men were held and 23 were arrested during the raids in London and Birmingham. The police have been granted an extra week, aside from the usual twenty-eight days, to question the suspects. Following these recent developments, we interviewed a former police chief from London, Guy Johnson, and asked him to reflect upon the issues of the day and the consequences of these recent events.

Over these last few days of high alert the strength of the language used to describe the threat has increased faster than the threat itself. The alert has changed continuously from “Critical” to “unprecedented,” then “unimaginable, and finally, “apocalyptic” for good measure. How do you think the media/government is affecting the progress and success of the police force in terms of finding alleged terrorists/curbing these activities/continuing with the legal process?
For a government to ignore such a threat would be unacceptable so they had to have a critical view. The British police are not an armed force so over the years it becomes more and more apparent that they are becoming more armed. Terrorism affects usually airports, or as it was last year, the tube station. Armed police impedes how the public thinks when previously you’ve never seen this. It is a very serious state of society, and it becomes a state of war, a mental state of war as well.

How long can police hold the people being questioned about the alleged plot? What will be the procedure?
The police forces have 3 options when they face a possible terror threat. First one is to react immediately. Second one is to delay any reaction and to do evidence gathering. Last one is to blow your cover before doing anything officially.

In the case of terrorism if you do nothing it will be a dreadful thing to do. Obviously, if the police forces want to arrest a suspect, they have to show the evidence. If somebody is going to something, you have to have evidence. So showing the evidence is a must in the interrogation procedure. If you do not find direct evidence and cannot find anything, you cannot sustain the procedure.

Democratic states like the UK or France have rules but, terrorism or terrorists have no rules. It has to kill, for example, 1000 innocent people. Sometimes somebody says it is fair.

If a police officer arrests somebody, humiliation in the general public will occur. For example, if the arrested 23 will not be charged in the alleged plot case, it means the police officers arrested 23 innocent men. So, 23 men will be humiliated if the police officers have not sufficient evidences.

In interrogation process, the suspects have to be taken to trial in 28 days. In other words, in 28 days the suspect has to be charged. And he has to be prosecuted in 7 days. The suspects cannot be questioned without lawyer. After 28 days, if sufficient evidence has been found to charge, the suspect will be charged. And it is the jury who finds the person guilty or not guilty. The jury is composed from 12 ordinary people from the streets of the UK. In other words, the public will decide the suspect guilty or not guilty. The judge’s duty in this process is to insure the procedures of the court. If the jury finds the person guilty and sentences him, it is not the end of this process. He has a right to appeal. And the case will go to three judges, not a jury this time. But sometimes terrorists benefit from this procedure under the democratic systems.

Currently, UK officials are considering introducing passenger profiling on grounds including ethnic origin ad religion. Will it cause resentment in the British society? Or will it assist to discriminate people in the UK society? What will be the method to combat terrorism in domestic and international level under?

First of all, profiling people is completely wrong. People could be resentful, and may feel labeled. Impressions of terrorists can be varied person to person. Think about a Muslim with a long beard. Most of the people see this kind of people as a terrorist. This is profiling and it is very wrong. What if a person converted his religion into Islam and has no beard. The thought that he cannot be a terrorist is very wrong. This evaluation can result in minimizing the whole search. You can assume the wrong thing completely.

Official figures show that out of a total of 1047 people arrested under Britain’s Terrorism Act 2000 between September 2001 and June 30, 2006 only 158 have been charged with terrorist offences. Of these, around 60 are awaiting trial. Why the gap in numbers between arrests and charges?
If we had a corrupt society, 1047 would be arrested and 1047 would be charged. That’s why we have safeguards, and the rule of law has been preserved. By arresting them, they are thwarting the possibility of crime, and it is a safeguard for society.

What do you think about the idea that the government has the intention to use latest events in the UK in order to influence public opinion in the international policy such as the Middle East policy?
What agenda really does the British government have in the Middle East… I analyze this. We want oil supplies, I accept that, but what other agenda have we got? The Jewish problem is a problem, but that cause by lots of things. But it’s just a nightmare for the West to tread through all these division in the Middle Eastern countries.

The UK is one of the important members of the EU.. In what sense does the latest terror plot affect the forces of counter terrorism in the EU?
The concept of the European integration is nonsense. You’ve got all these countries of different cultures different names, and historically they’ve fought each other for years. And initially, the aim of the European Union was to have a trading partnership where tariffs would no longer be imposed because they were getting trading competition from Japan and the US. But you see, politicians are completely out of touch, and they assumed that the federal state of Italy would have the same culture, same traditions as us. Now you see, that’s what happened. Exactly the same with the terrorist efforts because there is the same issue at hand.

France, who was very critical of the Iraq war, offered troops for the UN ceasefire, and said they would not go in until there was no ceasefire. You saw the Iraq war, Britain and America stood firm. Germany had its own agenda. And France had its own agenda. Yet, you had three different foreign policies in Europe. I mean, we will always be close to America. Speaking in one voice would never work. The alliances are difference for each state. So if you tried to get a federal state of Europe with one common foreign policy, it would never work, everyone would want different policies for different cultures. It would be the worst.

In English law, a person is innocent until has proven guilty. In our law, the prosecution has to prove he’s guilty. If you’ve got these different tenants of law, you could say that it is easier to prove someone is guilty in France than in England. If there’s going to be international cooperation, they’ve got to look at the basic laws and the whole laws have got to be altered to fit the member states. It’s got to be the same through out.

Muslim community leaders have requested aid from the Government to do more to win the “hearts and minds” of young British Muslims. Many people inside and outside the community have been saying this… Do you think this is a valid argument or not? If so what can be done in the UK and other countries where there is substantial Muslim population? What does the Muslim community itself to do?

The Pakistanis in the UK live in ghettos. In other words, they come from Pakistan and someone settles in an area, and then he writes back to his brother in Pakistan and he will come live next door. Then they all come over and they all settle in one area. Its not intended by politicians, it’s just how it happens because you generally live next to somebody you know in a strange country. They then become an insular part because they are surrounded by other communities and they don’t mix. They’ve got no need to communicate and it is difficult to integrate. Islam is a difficult religion to breakdown. Pakistani people will have to marry within themselves. Thousands of immigrants over the centuries to the UK slowly but surely have intermixed, and then there’s no difference. Everyone’s one nation. But because of this cultural difference of Islam you’re always going to have this insular problem.

How can we evaluate the latest events in the UK?
It could be a complete failure, how can we evaluate that right now? Until they’re charged and the evidence is presented, then you can answer that question. One thing, were assuming they’re guilty, and so you can’t get to ask that until the end.

Do you think John Reid, the Home secretary, jeopardized a future trial by stating that the police were confident that the “main players” were in custody?
This is a politician talking, you see. He’s playing for the leadership because Blair has said he’s going to leave sometime in the next five years before the term comes up. John Reid is a very ambitious politician as well, and because of the lack of confidence in the home office, he had to make a strong statement.

Khushbu Shah - Emre Ozkan (ISRO Center for International Security, Terrorism and Ethnic Conflict Studies)


Post a Comment

Would You Please Update/Correct Any Of The
3500+ Posts by Leaving Your Comments Here
- - - Your Opinion Matters To Us - - -

We Promise To Publish Them Even If We May Not Share The Same View

Mind You,
You Wouldn't Be Allowed Such Freedom In Most Of The Other Sites At All.

You understand that the site content express the author's views, not necessarily those of the site. You also agree that you will not post any material which is false, hateful, threatening, invasive of a person’s privacy, or in violation of any law.

Please read the post then write a comment in English by referring to the specific points in the post and do preview your comment for proper grammar /spelling.

You need a Google Account (such as Gmail) to publish your comments.

Publishing Your Comments Here:
Please type your comment in plain text only (NO Formatting) in an editor like notepad first,
Then copy and paste the final/corrected version into the comment box here as Google/Blogger may not allow re-editing/correcting once entered in some cases.
And click publish.
-If you need to correct the one you have already sent, please enter "New Comment" as we keep the latest version and delete the older version as default

Alternative way to send your formatted comments/articles:

All the best